Saturday, September 17, 2016

Today, Jesus keeps on the theme of faithful discipleship. He tells us a very interesting parable about a dishonest steward. However the situation is not so cut and dry at it seems. Our Lord here isn’t condoning the steward’s behavior, which was obviously unjust and dishonest, but Jesus is emphasizing and praising the steward’s shrewdness and effort. In this parable, our Blessed Lord wants us to apply at least the same ingenuity and effort to serve Him as people put into their worldly affairs or in their attempts to attain some human ideal.

At times however, sadly we must admit, it seems too often as if the children of this world are more resolute in the pursuit of their goals than we Christians. All of us have become accustomed to seeing people make unbelievable sacrifices in order to improve their life-style or standard of living. At times we may even be shocked by the great lengths people will go to acquire more wealth, power or fame. In Charity, we Christians must be willing to put at least the same amount of zeal and effort into the service of God and neighbor, offering everything we do all for the glory of God, not our own. Only by this type of humble and dedicated service we will acquire salvation for ourselves and for our neighbor whoever he or she may be.

For their part, the children of the world live as if there existed only what is here below, and they single-mindedly focus their attention on obtaining what they think will make them happy in this world. They focus on acquiring the good things of this world more than on possessing and being possessed by the One Who is Goodness Itself and from Whom all good things come. And as result they fail to realize what is really important. And that is, our eternal destiny and whether we will spend it forever in heaven united with God in an intimate union of love or in hell separated from Him forever.

However, it is not just the children of the world that forget what is really important, even more scandalous, the children of God, us Christians too often forget. Because of this forgetting about what is really important, and the loss of charitable zealousness that results, Jesus says sadly, “… the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”

For our part, the Lord wants us to make as our primary concern, our growth in intimacy and friendship with him, better known as holiness and sanctity. And then in sanctity and holiness, living our lives in order to lead others to Him and His love, in order that they may be not only saved but enter into a loving union with Him as well, now and for all eternity. We should have at least the same level of determination as that with which others engage in worldly concerns.

In fact, if you really think about, nothing on this earth is more important that Adoring and Worshiping God, in order to come to know Him more, love Him more so that we can serve Him in order to be truly happy in this life and forever in the life to come. Nothing is more important that being His faithful disciple in order not only to save our soul but also being used to save the souls of others, both those we love and those of our enemies. All of the things of this world, all of our talents, all that the Lord as given to us, should be used primarily for this.

God has given us all so many gifts and He waits patiently to see what we will do with them. Will we treat them as ends or will we use them as means. “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.” We have only one Lord. We must serve Him with all our heart, using all that He has given to us, whether it be our treasures, our talents or our time. We must direct everything toward Him: our work, our plans, our leisure, without holding anything back. Even the ordinary mundane duties of everyday life must be done for God alone, nothing is considered inconsequential.

The faithful Disciple is not one however, who lives with his head in the clouds, but the one who loves God and neighbor by struggling to be faithful in the little details of everyday life; it isn’t that He is perfect but that he is, with the help of God’s grace, striving for perfection…to be perfect as Your Heavenly Father is perfect. It is perfection of Love!!! Even little things if done for love of God become powerful and useful for our salvation and that of our neighbors; in fact, “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” We must do everything primarily for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls—“Even in eating and drinking do everything for God’s glory.”

Our resolution to put God and His affairs first in our lives begins right here at Holy Mass. Coming to, and fully, actively and consciously participating in Holy Mass is a matter of grave Justice; it is recognition of what is owed to God as our Creator and sustainer. And what is owed to Him is our worship and adoration, our complete trust and love. Not to make Holy Mass, which is the greatest act of adoration of God (because Holy Mass is the Adoration of the Son to the Father on our behalf; it is God adoring God for our sakes)…not make Holy Mass the most important event in our life is to fail in justice toward our God. Not to offer ourselves at Holy Mass to God in response to the offering of Himself to us, is to fail not only in justice, but also to fail in our love for Him; for love is always and exchange of persons. Our love and participation at Holy Mass is therefore the greatest act of Charity we can perform; and only from the Mass then can we truly act in Charity to others.

In justice and in love for God and neighbor, we must come to Holy Mass every week, at least, and humbly adore the God who is truly present there, the God who has given us everything we have even our very existence and the existence of those we love. In this, we realize that by being present at Holy Mass we aren’t doing God a favor, He is doing us a favor; He is blessing us by even allowing us to be in His Holy and Sacred Presence, along with all the angels and saints of heaven bowing our hearts before Him crying out, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty…Blessed are we who are called to His supper.

In profound thanksgiving and appreciation, we must then take what we receive at this Mass, namely Jesus in the Holy Eucharist—His power and His Love known as Charity, out with us as we live our mission to bring the love of Christ to the world around us, for we can’t be a follower of God on Sunday’s and devoted to the business of this world the rest of the week. We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be faithful disciples of our Lord.

Let us then offer everything we have at this Mass in order to adore God. Let us acknowledge our failure in the past to serve Him as we ought; let us thank Him for all the many blessings that He as given to us; and let us ask Him for the grace and the strength to serve Him single mindedly and faithfully all the days of our lives. Holy Mary, perfect Disciple of the Lord and Mother of all the disciples of the Lord, pray for us sinners. Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Luke 15; 1-32. Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. September 11th, 2016

The parables of the Gospel today, the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son, are all very familiar to us. The parables of the lost sheep and prodigal son are so popular that you can see in many people’s homes pictures of Jesus with a sheep on His shoulders or of the Father receiving and embracing the prodigal son. We have heard some fairly difficult Gospels the last few weeks on discipleship. Topics like humility two weeks ago, and last week's taking up your cross each day, are not easy ones to hear, much less put into practice.

In light of the seriousness of these topics, certainly, many of us have tried to respond anew, and with greater intensity to Jesus’ call to become more fully His faithful Disciples. However, even though in our hearts we long to follow Christ more fully we know we are very weak and that we live in world where it is so very difficult to do the right thing. It’s so easy to become discouraged in our efforts and to just give up and say “Oh, what’s the use- I’ll never get this right!”

Well today, through the readings, God speaks to our discouragement. He offers us His grace; that is, offers us His Divine help so that we might fulfill our desire to be good and faithful disciples. He wants us to know that He is merciful God, a God who is patient and kind. He is a generous and understanding God; quick to forgive those who are humble and contrite of heart. He is a God who never keeps score or tallies our iniquities.

No, God is not a “scorekeeper” but a “promise keeper.” Being well aware of our human weakness, He prefers not to condemn us; after all He has presented us with his greatest gift imaginable, the gift of His only Son, who He continues to offer to us in and through all the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Holy Eucharist because it is Jesus in the flesh.

In each of the parables in the Gospel today, the central figure is then God Himself. He is God who is on a “search and rescue” mission. He is a God who does everything He can to seek out and recover those of His children who have succumbed to temptation and so have separated themselves from Him and His love for them.

God is in fact, the Good Shepherd who misses the sheep gone astray by sin, seeks it out in order to bring it back to the fold. Once He has found it, He carries it on His shoulder, since it is trembling and weak from its disobedience and the great burden of its sins. God also seeks us, similar to the actions of a woman who having lost a coin of great value, lights a lamp and searches the whole house diligently and patiently until it is found. As well, God is a loving father who longs for the return of His son, going out daily, scanning the horizon to see if His son is coming so that as a Father He can run to His returning son and throw His arms around him and cover him with kisses.

Yes, these beautiful images of God are given to us to encourage us in our daily struggles. But at the same time they are given to us as an example to follow in our discipleship. They let us know that discipleship involves nothing less, nothing less, than taking into our hearts the qualities of God Himself-we are called to be God-like through divine grace. In other words, we are call to love like God, to actually love with God’s own love; we are called to have a merciful, forgiving heart like God, a heart that desires that none be lost, that all be found and saved.

And so, if we are to take on the qualities of the Father's heart, our discipleship then also includes a sharing in God’s own mission, which again is a search and rescue mission. It is a sharing in the mission of the Father, through, with, and in the Sacred Heart of His Son, of finding the lost sheep and bringing them back into the One Fold, to His one true Church.

Holy Mother Church applies the image of the Good Shepherd, and so this search and rescue mission, especially to priests when it states: “They (the priests) should be mindful that by their daily conduct and solicitude they display the reality of a truly priestly and pastoral ministry both to believers and unbelievers alike, to Catholics and non-Catholics; that they are bound to bear witness before all men of the Truth and of the Life, and as good shepherds seek after those too who, whilst having been baptized in the Catholic Church, have given up the practice of the sacraments, or even fallen away from the faith.”

But the Church doesn’t limit this rescue mission merely to priests. It reminds us that we have all been the lost sheep at some time in our lives. And because we have all been searched for and found by the Mercy of our God, we too should want all souls to experience the healing and saving power of the Sacraments in which the Father through Jesus embraces us and covers us with His Kisses.

And so our sharing in God's search and rescue mission for lost souls is also a necessary requirement of the Lord for all of us in our faithful discipleship. Fulfilling this requirement of faithful discipleship in order to bear the fruit of bringing lost souls into the embrace of the Father, requires nothing less as well, than our full, active and conscious participation at Holy Mass; only then can we take on the qualities of God.

In the first reading today, we hear of Moses, after climbing the Mountain of Holiness, interceding before the face of God on behalf of his people that had gone astray, so they would not be destroyed would not be lost. So too at Holy Mass the “New Moses” Jesus climbs the mountain of true holiness, Mount Calvary. And there before the Face of the Father, Jesus continues to intercede by pouring himself out for the salvation and sanctification of all souls.

Even though, principally it is Jesus who is the “one intercessor to the Father on our behalf, He wishes that we too join in this intercessory role of the Son on behalf of all souls. We too, at Holy Mass, are to offer ourselves in love to Father, to offer our body and our blood. In other words, we too are to pour out our life for the sake of others, so that the lost may found and all may be saved through us. We too, through, with and in the Son are to intercede before the continence of the Father, that is, before the face of the Father as well, crying out, “Eternal Father, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Let us not be discouraged in our weakness and our sinfulness, but with humble and contrite hearts and with the Help of the Virgin Mary, join in this self-offering of Jesus by offering our self and all we have fully and with great trust to Jesus and through Him to the Father. And as the bread and the wine that is being offered is transformed by the Holy Spirit into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may our hearts too, by the same Spirit be transformed into images of this same Sacred Heart. Then becoming one with the Heart of the Son, we will truly be able to share in the search and rescue mission of the Father becoming His instruments of grace and mercy for the world, so that it may escape the destruction for by its sins it so justly desires. Let us pray:

Eternal Father, at this Holy Mass, I offer to Thee the Body and the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Thy dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, along with my own heart, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world…

Sunday, September 4, 2016

In today’s Gospel we again hear Jesus asking us to become His faithful disciples. In fact, each and ever day when we wake up, if we listen closely, we can hear Jesus asking us to be his disciples to a greater degree than the day before. Are we willing to put our faith, adoration, trust, our love and obedience to Jesus, before anything or anyone? Will we love Jesus today even more than our closest loved ones, our father, mother, wife, brothers and sisters, children and even ourselves? Are we willing today to pick-up the cross that He gives us and follow after him? Will we renounce all of our possessions for Him, sacrifice ourselves by loving others for love of Him-will we live for Him alone?

These questions come up in the events of each and every day, and they remind us that it is important that we calculate not only the cost of being a faithful disciple, but what we need to do in order to succeed in becoming one. It takes great effort to be a faithful disciple of Jesus; it takes a daily struggle.

Our Gospel today teaches us three main aspects or actions, which we must struggle to carryout on a daily basis. They are; Adoration—that is daily loving God first; Carrying our cross in imitation of Jesus; and Renunciation, that is, putting nothing before God and our Love for Him. Let’s look a little closer at each one.

First, Adoration. Practically, this aspect of our daily struggle begins first thing in the morning when we wake up. Do we put our love for God first in our day? We struggle with getting out of bed and we struggle even more to do that first act of adoration of our day. Our minds can quickly turn to other things- like “I’ve got to get everyone else up and breakfast prepared.” “What time is that first appointment of the day—better to just hit the snooze alarm one more time?

Suddenly our minds are filled with the preoccupations of the day. These things are important, but will we love God first and put Him first in our day? The very first thing our minds should focus upon, immediately when awaking, is on God. Making the sign of the cross, we should make a sacrifice to get out of bed quickly and immediately kneel down, even touching our forehead to the ground in order to make our first act of the day an act of adoring God. “God, Creator of my soul, Father of my soul, I adore and I love Thee. Please help me to adore Thee and love Thee more this day.” We have to make the effort to start off each day putting God first if we are to keep Him first throughout our day and so in our lives. To help us adore him daily, do we, whenever we can, spend intimate time with Him truly present in the tabernacle or during Holy Hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament?

The second aspect of our daily struggle; We must be willing to pick up the crosses that Jesus gives us each day? All of us have some sort of suffering in our lives and these are our crosses. If there is anyone who is free from suffering here, I’d love to meet them. Some crosses are big; most are small. Perhaps ours is larger—an illness, or an illness in the family. Maybe it’s troubles in the family- the children are misbehaving, a relative in trouble. Or maybe it’s troubles at work- that bothersome coworker, heavy workload, being out of work. Maybe our cross is smaller—just the hum drum of everyday life, or even the little trips, snares and snags that occur each and everyday, such as when we drop things, clothing snags on a door knob, we can’t find our keys or the car won’t start.

Whatever our sufferings may be, they are something that God has allowed in our life, and if we carry them for love of Jesus; they can make us into great saints—that is great friends of Jesus. Instead of saying, “Why me, we can say “why not me.” And so we ask Jesus to help us to see that our sufferings are the very things that He has allowed in order that we can draw closer to him in love; carrying our cross far from being a negative, can be the most positive thing in our lives, if we carry it for love of Jesus, it is the royal way that leads to salvation, ours and other’s as well.

If we ask Him, Jesus will give us the grace to handle our cross along with it’s many sufferings that come into our lives, not only to just endure these sufferings, but even to endure them with great joy and peace, “for his yoke is easy and his burden light for those who love him dearly.” But we can’t try to carry the cross on our own; we need his help—daily. So do we ask for this each day in our morning prayer? Do we think about Him during our work, asking him for his help and strength throughout the day? Do we seek the help of His grace by praying each and ever day.

And the third and final aspect or action: we must renounce all of our possessions do be His disciples. However, before we can do so, we must first understand what it means to renounce all of our possessions. Possessions are anything, anyone that might separate us from God. The list can be long. We immediately think of material goods. The question we can ask ourselves to see whether or not we have renounced them is, “do I possess this thing or does it possess me?” Does it possess me to the point that my heart is more attached to it than to God? Our world is so full of materialism and consumerism that it is a struggle to not be possessed by the things of this world.

Another area of possession, perhaps the most difficult, is the riches we hoard in our own hearts. One of the greatest riches is not money but our stubborn will. We love to have things our own way. Interiorly, we can all sometimes act like spoiled children; “It’s my way or the highway.” And so, do we make daily sacrifices for others for love of God? Do we submit ourselves to the church and her representatives in our beliefs and our practices? Do we make sacrifices for our family and for our Church family?

Another type of possession can be our memories. Memories can be another form of “wealth.” An example of this is our grudges. If someone in the past or present has hurt us, do we allow the memory of the hurt to possess us so that we refuse to forgive that person and even refuse to talk to or pray for that person? I think this occurs most often in families. Grudges can possess our heart and make them heavy and hard. And so, we need God’s grace to let go, to forgive, to reconcile. Each and everyday we need to ask God in prayer to help us in our struggle to forgive and to reconcile. We need especially the grace from the Sacrament of Confession to help us to forgive others who have hurt us, especially if it a very deep hurt. When we let go of our possessions and being possessed by them, we possess and become possessed by Jesus Christ our true Joy, and nothing could be better than this.

So to sum up the three points to following Jesus more faithfully: First each and everyday, we must make an act of adoration to God, in which we give to Him all that we are and all that we have. Connected to this is accepting and carrying our daily crosses with great love for Jesus and for our neighbor out of our love for Jesus. This is our we live adoration. And in those things, which are most difficult to let go of, those things that hold possession over our hearts more than the Blessed Trinity, we ask the Holy Spirit to slowly help us to renounce them.

In order to be able to carry out each of these in our daily life it goes with out saying that we must begin our week by fully, actively, consciously participating in the Holy Mass in order to obtain its infinite fruits in our lives. The Holy Mass the source of all graces; it is the source and summit of the Christian life.
It is only at Holy Mass that we begin to truly adore God. For only there can be we present at the passion and death—the Crucifixion of Jesus on Calvary and join our imperfect adoration to the perfect adoration of Jesus to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
And so, it is here at the Holy Mass that we can more fully renounce all of our possessions by offering them along with our whole heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that she that she may place them on the Paten as loving sacrificial offering to God.
And it is at Holy Mass that we can receive from the Eucharistic Jesus the Holy Spirit, in order to daily carry our cross in imitation of Jesus, becoming His instruments of love and mercy to the world. Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us; St. Joseph pray for us; St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta; Pray for us. Amen